Fr. Marek Luczak talks with archbishop Stanislaw Nowak about St. Faustyna, the beginnings of Divine Mercifulness cult and problems with translation of the 'Diary'
FR. MAREK LUCZAK: - Archbishop is the only person of co-creators of Divine Mercifulness cult – at the times of Cracow, when cardinal Karol Wojtyla was dealing with this issue, Archbishop was helping him. What were the beginnings?
ARCHBISHOP STANISLAW NOWAK: - When the Holy See expressed its doubts about the cult of Divine Mercifulness according to sister Faustyna, new times had began in Cracow. These were just the times when archbishop metropolitan Wojtyla decided to enliven this cult of Divine Mercifulness. Certainly, the cult existed, people used to pray, but with some uncertainty, as there was not 'nihil obstat'.
- Maybe, at this point, we will tell Readers, that it probably concerned problems in the translation of the 'Diary' by sister Faustyna...
- In our 'News of Czestochowa' I described a story of the feast of Divine Mercifulness and I presented everything from the beginning. As for the explanation: archbishop Antoni Baraniak, respected by Rome, as the secretary of cardinal August Hlond, received a text connected with the cult of Divine Mercifulness, which, according to him, was over-interpretation, and was not completely compatible with what the sister had said. He mentioned that if the authority of cardinal Hlond was overused in this text, he was created as somebody who was the author of this cult – but we know that it was not so – it could not be left so without any comments. Therefore – archbishop Baraniak wrote to Rome because he engaged in the development of this cult. And his opinion was respected in Rome. He was called a martyr – after all, it is known how he suffered terribly at the times of communism. As a bishop, he helped the primate Wyszynski, and a year later he was imprisoned and was being tortured by communism. His opinion was considered during a congregation and, as a result, the development of the cult was stopped. Moreover, Fr. Michal Sopocko, who was a great promoter of this cult, was touched by this issue, because it was also him who was accused of abuse. It turned out to be untrue, and was proved by the process. However, there was something unclear – those translations made the cult of Divine Mercifulness very nationalized.
- Colours were mistranslated, weren't they?
- The problem was that Poland was too exposed.
- But the spark of mercifulness came out from Poland...
- That's true, but all this contributed to 'nihil obstat' and John Paul II did everything to make it happen so. When he was going to Rome for a Vatican Council, he hoped that it would happen. He was even advised by cardinal Alfredo Ottaviani, and it is known, that it was an unusual conservatist. He really cared about making the Vatican Council faithful to Tradition, so that very little would change. His advice was that it would be possible to do something through proving heroism of virtues of sister Faustyna. And it was the beginning. Cardinal Wojtyla did everything in Cracow what he could, so as to explain everything what was unclear. The 'Diary' of sister Faustyna was not, unfortunately, famous for a good translation, its fragments were simply repeated. Only sister Beata – an excellent nun – and an acquaintance of sister Faustyna – devoted her life to arrange it all anew. It was necessary to get engaged in it theologically and in a good way and here, she referred to Fr. Prof. Ignacy Rozycki, a dogmatic. I remember when archbishop Wojtyla organized a symposium in the Curia in Cracow, which was attended by Fr. Rozycki who proved us then, after a very deep study of the 'Diary' that the cult of Divine Mercifulness had its material object and differed from the cult of Jesus' Heart, just with the reference object. There was such an accusation that what the cult was for, which was the replica of the cult of Jesus' Heart. This theologian of great rank proved that this all had its aspect, its point of view, its material and formal object – and it was a great work by Fr. Rozycki. He helped Fr. Prof. Wojtyla in analyzing this great theology and it was the reason why the cult of Divine Mercifulness according to sister Faustyna was accepted, yet by Paul VI. If it had been a few months later, it would have been perceived as the fact that Karol Wojtyla, as the pope, had blown the cult out of its proportion and everything would be less believable.
- In this place I must ask about the role of Archbishop in it...
- As for my humble person, I arrived in Paris as a theologian of spirituality and I was advised to present the spirituality of sister Faustyna at this first symposium. Since then, I have been cooperating with sister Beata and I had lectures for the novice of sisters of Our Lady of Mercifulness. Sister Beata based on my sentence and consulted me in many issues. The 'Diary' was edited anew and all this led to a quick ending of the process.
- Today we know that the cult of Divine Mercifulness is not identified with the cult of Jesus' Heart, but it seems to me that in the first and the second case, there is the same sensitivity of nearly whole humankind, that help is only in God, in God's Heart.
- Exactly, it is. The Cult of Jesus' Heart, sharply speaking, is the cult which originated from the school of French spirituality. From the Cult of the Embodied Word – Jesus Christ who became human. The first dimension of the cult of Jesus' Heart became a physical heart of Jesus, but with the fact that 'God loved the world so much that He sent His Only Son, so that the man would not die' (see J.3.16). This is the longest, as some people say, sentence in the Bible in which, in the first place, there is the cult of Embodied God, Christ, who had human heart, pierced, and this Heart reveals unending love to God. God is infinite – we touch something important in Christianity here; God is love, heart reveals love. Whereas, in the cult of Divine Mercifulness we see that God is love lowering itself to human poverty, to human sin, is merciful love. The definition 'merciful love' is just assigned to St. Theresa of Baby Jesus. Sister Faustyna based on the cult of St. Theresa, but here we have mercifulness. This love bending over people and this sensitivity to poverty, to sin – this aspect of love in the cult of mercifulness is extremely anthropocentric. Therefore, it raises other moral attitudes. What kinds? Jesus, I trust You. Infinite trustfulness, because God is merciful. Whereas, in the cult of Jesus' Heart – the pierced, hurt heart – expiation to Jesus' Heart, expiating Holy Communion, the first Fridays of months – this aspect. God is not loved, hardly loved. Christians should worry about it and expiate God for their sins. So, this is the same love, but....
- …..various accents.
- It is so. And it was perfectly proven by Fr. Rozycki in the article which was sent to the congregation and which decided about unblocking 'nihil obstat'. He proved that in the cult of Jesus' Heart there is mainly Jesus, Embodied God, His Love, His Heart, whereas here – God's mercifulnes s in the Holy Trinity of the Only: Father, Son and the Holy Spirit. So, the cult of mercifulness is more connected with the mystery of the Holy Trinity, it includes a reference not only to Jesus Christ, but also to Father God who is merciful, to God's Son and to the Holy Spirit.